You know, during this entire quarantine not much has felt normal. Life as we know it has drastically changed these last four months no matter where you look. But as we inch closer and closer to the return of sports nothing felt more normal than Chuck going on TV and making an outrageous prediction. That only happens if the NBA return is close which brings me a great level of joy. It feels good to have this version of Chuck back in our lives like before the pandemic happened.
Now, in terms of what he actually said? There's no way he really believes that, but for the sake of the blog let's try to understand why he might. Obviously without perimeter defenders like Rondo/Avery Bradley one could argue that the duo of Dame/CJ are going to have their way with the Lakers defense. Listen, nobody loves Rondo and Avery more than me, but they are not the defenders they used to be. The Lakers have the 3rd best defense in the NBA heading into the bubble, that's not going to disappear just because they don't have those two players. In fact, I would argue that Alex Caruso is a better defensive player than both Rondo/Avery. There's also the whole LeBron/AD/McGee/Dwight defensive frontcourt which is pretty fucking good.
But you do have to consider the return of the Blazers bigs in both Jusurf Nurkic and Zach Collins. A huge part of hanging with the Lakers is dealing with their size, and adding two seven footers to your rotation can only help. At the same time, even with those guys last year the Blazers were just 16th in defense. This year they were 27th without those guys. That's not great.
I will say though, if the Blazers do make that first round series, it would give the Lakers a tougher test than some of the other options. We've seen Dame go against the Lakers and win a game by himself
So maybe they could take 1 or 2 games, but beat one of the best teams in the league 4 out of 7 times? After showing us all year that they were unable to stop a nosebleed defensively? I just don't see it. Trust me, I want that to be true more than anything, but when you consider LeBron hasn't lost a first round series in his entire career combined with the fact that he has a top 5 player teammate and the NBA wants him to go as deep as possible, there's just no way. Adam Silver will find a way to make things look like they did in the 2000 WCF, believe that.
I don't want Blazers fans to take this the wrong way, because I do think that would be a fun as hell series if we were to get it. Dame is one bad motherfucker and CJ McCollum isn't too shabby either. But the body of work that the team showed the entire year does not suggest they are capable of pulling off that type of upset unfortunately.
On the flip side, if it does happen? I just want to warn you all that I am going to be insufferable on the internet. Imagine gutting your entire future to bring in AD only to lose in the first round? WOOF.